So many things have been happening in my life to make me examine love and how I love others. I recently participated in an online linky thing where we all wrote letters to our 16 year old self and this made thoughts and feelings I had buried deep resurface and I cannot make them go away.
For so long, maybe as long as I can remember, I have felt I was too ugly to be loved, even too ugly to be liked. This then led to feelings that I was useless, unkind, unworthy and to protect myself from rejection or failure I built tough barriers around me. The barriers took the form of always searching for the negative in people, reducing my opinion of them so that if they rejected me it wouldn’t matter because I had already decided they were less than perfect anyway. This applied to new people but I think to some extent I also used this strategy on my immediate family, everybody. This of course then led to a deep loneliness. This was all disguised behind a care-free, happy and life loving mask to try and win the approval of people I had already rejected. How exhausting.
This negative assessment of each and every individual I ever come into contact with, and the assumption that given the chance they will reject me, combined with the negative self talk that has consumed my body, wrapped itself around my heart and festered in my soul, has resulted in a long life of thinking and speaking badly about myself and lot of other people.
I do not like recognising these things about myself, as I write it is hard to for me to breath but for me it is part of the process of stepping out of the dark and into the light. God cannot dwell in the brown murkiness that is my soul; the light of Jesus cannot shine bright through me if I do not love myself. If I am not courageous enough to recognise these feelings I may subconsciously burden my children in a way I would regret forever, I may not be able to love my husband in a way that creates a long and beautiful marriage and I may waste my entire life on things that do not matter. I want to love my family, friends, community and world as Jesus intended, which requires me to love myself first.
I am inclined to believe I am not alone in having these negative feelings about myself. I believe most of us love our neighbour as we love our self and this is why there are such high rates of suicide, depression, substance abuse, divorce, loneliness and violence. Do you think our prisons would be overflowing, would our child safety employees be so overworked, would 45% of marriages end in divorce if we loved ourselves? I don’t even think we would need to spend so much on education if we all felt truly loved. We wouldn’t have to worry about so much insignificant nonsense and therefore we would all be better able to learn and reach our potential.
So where do we start? Becoming aware of the problem is a good place to start. Allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable this might give other people permission to explore these feelings too. I have set myself the love dare not to talk negatively about anybody. I think this alone will help me to love myself more. It will help create a more nurturing and loving environment in my heart and my house. I will continue to search for how I might love myself more and I would love to hear any suggestions and thoughts you might have.